Renewal projects for all public spaces at SOLANA mall in Beijing offers RAMOPRIMO the chance for rethinking the role of malls in contemporary city, with particular attention to their public functions as tools to foster social connectivity.
The series of coordinated design interventions have been conceived as a unique strategy to redefine the public use of the mall, especially those small left-over spaces relegated to the background that are usually used for secondary functions, such as toilets, relax areas, passageways, connecting paths and other functional rooms for staff and customers. After the spread of online shopping in recent years this type of “physical” service spaces has in fact regained a certain significant and important role.
The requirement by client was to offer a visually simple and clear design, easy to catch at the first glimpse, working together with the existing signage system of the mall to make easy for visitors to orient themselves in the complicate tangle of corridors, parking lots and corner spaces in-between shops. A “soft refurbishment” that, redefining a series of widespread little areas, was able to improve the overall visual perception of the entire mall.
The overall intervention will involve a total of around 5000 m² of public areas, providing them to a more contemporary look, yet keeping a connection to the mall’s classical Visual Identity. The project developed by RAMOPRIMO will include info desks, public toilettes, entrance spaces and corridors, access areas from basement, escalator lobbies, paths and public squares.
First intervention step of this major renewal project is the public toilet facing SOLANA central square which has just open to public. General concept starts from the idea to create a pleasant space where visitors can feel welcomed and part of a community. The public entrance area connects ideally to the idea of “piazza”, which is the central square of every Italian town, and its social function to connect people, providing a refuge and some seats. At the same time, it works as a filter space where people can feel relaxed and at ease.
A public waiting room characterized by a long bench and three large white curves dangling from the ceiling is welcoming customers. This shape was a necessity to hide the existing large pipes crossing the room and to avoid the realization of an oppressive low ceiling, adding in this way a sense of smoothness and dynamic coziness, like large tents or sails.
Materials are selected to involve customers’ senses: hard edges and soft curves, warm and cold materials are mixed to play a game of contrasts inviting visitors to discover. Three different types of marble, with different surface treatments and slightly fading hues of colors will suggest a feeling of durability and comfort. A large loop made of natural wood connects the entrance area to the rest rooms while providing a visual rhythm to the path. Sinks are mounted on sculptural central islands, which catch visitors’ attention like large fountains, suggesting an idea of elegant and sophisticated tools at their service and making them appear as comfortable timeless public bathrooms.
Location：SOLANA Lifestyle Shopping Mall, Beijing
Function：mixed-use, public space and facilities
Area：250 m² (first step for a total of 5000 m²)
architects：Marcella Campa, Stefano Avesani
project team：Zhao Xinyi 赵心怡、Huo Ran 霍燃、Giacomo Squaquara
construction and engineering：Yili Hengxing Decoration [北京毅力恒兴装饰有限公司]
wooden surfaces：Imondi flooring